The Miami Heat have now won four straight games after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 94-87. Strong defense and balanced scoring among players have been the leading factors in the Heat’s sudden success.
Calls to tank have quieted and the Heat’s win streak, currently the longest in the NBA along with the OKC Thunder, has jolted them into a would-be playoff spot. Currently, the Heat are 8th in the Eastern Conference and sit at 15-16 on the season.
Despite missing guard Goran Dragic and still being without guard Dion Waiters, the Heat have quickly turned around what had been a disappointing start to the season. Over their four game win streak, the Heat are allowing just 94.75 points per game in wins over the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, and now the Bucks.
Along with the stifling defense, the scoring has been very spread out across the board for the Heat throughout the streak as well. Josh Richardson has led the team with 19.5 points per game in the four game period, with Tyler Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr, Kelly Olynyk, Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside all averaging 10 or more points per game as well.
The trend of defense and balanced scoring was more apparent than ever in the most recent win against the Bucks.
The Heat allowed just eight points for the Bucks in the first quarter, which was a season-low for any team this season and was tied as a franchise-low for the Bucks. For the second time in his last 129 games, Giannis Antetokounmpo was held scoreless in the first quarter as well.
The Bucks missed their first 13 three-point attempts, making their first one in the second quarter thanks to Tony Snell. At halftime, the score was just 38-37 with the Bucks leading, near season-lows for both and for the NBA. The low scoring, though, is just what the Heat aim for each game.
The Bucks failed to score 40 points until the 28-minute mark, and they have had six 40-point quarters so far this season. Antetokounmpo didn’t register his first field goal from the floor until the 5:13 mark in the third quarter. Notice the trend here?
On the offensive side of the ball for the Heat, not one player dominated in the scoring department, but one didn’t have to. Richardson was the highest scorer with 16 points, with James Johnson, Olynyk, Wade and Whiteside all scoring in double-figures as well.
It wasn’t the prettiest game, and the Bucks made a push late in the game, but it was a historic game defensively for the Heat, but it’s been the trend each game throughout their streak.
The way the Heat have been able to win during the streak has been impressive considering the high scoring nature of the league and their lack of a true dominant scorer. What has been equally as impressive, though, has been the consistency throughout despite key players missing time. Dragic and Waiters, as many know, were not available, and Justise Winslow and Wade missed action over the past four games.
Dragic will likely be out until the All Star break after undergoing a knee procedure, but Waiters is quickly approaching a return after recently being cleared for full contact in practice.
The Heat simply had too much talent as a group to be a sub-.500 team and are now a win away on Sunday against the Orlando Magic from breaking even on the season. While the Heat won’t win the rest of their games this season, the formula they have drawn up throughout their four-game win streak will give them the opportunity to compete night-in and night-out.